Getting into a sleep routine can be tough–especially for children experiencing change in their routine, such as the back-to-school transition or seasonal time changes.
To ease back into into healthy sleep habits, Heather Sheehy, Director of ProMedica Sleep Centers, recommends consistency. Parents should put their children to bed at the same time every night and get them up every day at the same time, even during school breaks and weekends.
According to Sheehy, being on a sleep schedule is important for our bodies to function. “Maintaining a normal sleep schedule makes it easier to fall asleep and rise in the morning and ensures that we get the amount of sleep needed for daily activities,” she says. “We cannot get the sleep we need if we do not allow ourselves that time in bed to get it.”
For those who don’t get enough sleep, Sheehy warns it can affect alertness, memory, performance, and behavior. For younger children, it can even affect their growth. “The proper amount of sleep is needed for health and growth of children,” she explains. “During sleep, the growth hormone is released.”
Sheehy notes that parents with different aged kids should have a bedtime that’s appropriate for the age of their child because the amount of sleep a child or teenager needs depends on their age. However in adolescents, Sheehy says one difficultly that parents face is a biological shift in the internal clock (after puberty).
Parents in need of a guide to follow can look to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which recommends the following amount of sleep by age needed to promote optimal health:
- Infants 4-12 months should sleep 12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 1-2 years of age should sleep 11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 3-5 years of age should sleep 10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)
- Children 6-12 years of age should sleep 9-12 hours per 24 hours
- Teenagers 13-18 years of age should sleep 8-10 hours per 24 hours